April 30, 2022
This is the last thing the Sixers needed.
Joel Embiid, already banged up with a torn ligament in his thumb, is now out indefinitely with an orbital fracture and concussion that he suffered late in the series-clinching Game 6 against the Raptors.
The Sixers' second-round series against the top-seeded Miami Heat begins Monday, and they'll have to go into without their best player on the floor.
This ain't good.
Is there a chance Embiid could come back later in the series, provided the Sixers are still hanging on? Maybe. But there's no way to tell right now.
And as our own Kyle Neubeck wrote Friday night, the team might have to consider cutting its losses on this one.
"Embiid will be the hardest person to convince on this, but it's not unreasonable to suggest at this point that it may be time to cut your losses and live to fight another day. No one has been less fortunate with injuries impacting him in the playoffs than Embiid over the last five years, and proving he is capable of playing and delivering through pain and ailments has been central to his rise to MVP candidate. Expecting him to be an impactful basketball player with a torn thumb ligament in his dominant hand and a fractured face, though, seems more than a bit unreasonable. There are two separate questions Embiid, the medical staff, and a group of decision makers will have to answer. Is bringing Embiid back a responsible decision, and will bringing Embiid back in this state offer enough upside to even justify whatever risk is assumed putting him on the floor?"
What is everyone else saying? Let's take a look...
An immediate question asked about Embiid's injury, and even during Game 6 before the severity of it was known, what was he doing out there so late?
When he took the elbow from Pascal Siakam, the Sixers had the game in the bag. They were up 29 with 3:58 left to play.
Blown leads can, and have, happened. But with the way things were going, there wasn't going to be any of that.
"Not many NBA leads are safe, and teams in this postseason have overcome 20-point deficits to win a game. But this was different.
"The 76ers pulled away in the third and led 99-78 headed into the fourth. They continued to build on that lead, and the Raptors, playing without All-Star Fred VanVleet, were finished. They had nothing left, and up 115-90 with five minutes left, it was clear the Raptors weren’t making a comeback, and at the very least, Rivers should’ve subbed for Embiid with 4:48 left when Pascal Siakam picked up his fourth foul.
"Most anyone watching the game knew it was over." [USA Today]
Embiid is a game-changing player, but things — be it injuries, front office turmoil, Ben Simmons — always seem to go wrong at the worst possible time, despite every effort to try and prevent it.
It, unfortunately, isn't an entirely unique story, as The Inquirer's Mike Sielski points out.
"Joel Embiid might be the most star-crossed figure in Philadelphia sports history. Who else compares? Perhaps Eric Lindros. More and more, the two seem kindred spirits, such obvious and marvelous talents, such promise never quite fulfilled for reasons out of their control. The injuries. The mismanagement. The trap doors that they fall through again and again." [The Inquirer]
A bad look got even worse overnight.
The Raptors fans and TSN commentator Jack Armstrong took exception to Embiid's airplane celebration, and when Embiid took the elbow from Siakam right after, Armstrong called it with "You get what you deserve."
We just going to ignore the fact that the Raptors announcer was happy Embiid got hit in the face? Look at the fans too. Could u imagine the reaction from NBA fan bases if Philly did this? pic.twitter.com/5OHEeAi0mm— Prez💊 (@PresidentEmbiid) April 29, 2022
Embiid was in clear pain, and bleeding, after the play. Even on the spot, the call came off bad. Now? Oh boy...
Let's just assume Armstrong wishes he could take that one back.
"Even if Embiid walked away totally fine from a pretty strong shot, saying a player 'deserves' to be hit in the face just because he celebrated on your court is a brutal take - and not exactly becoming of a professional broadcaster:
And now that we know the severity of Embiid's injuries, Armstrong's comments are that much uglier." [NBC Sports Philadelphia]
The Sixers still have to play Monday. James Harden, you're up. And the Heat definitely aren't going to make life easy.
Also from Kyle's reporting and immediate reaction Friday night:
"With or without Embiid on the floor, the guy who gets put into the spotlight here is James Harden, the star Daryl Morey was after for months in Ben Simmons trade talks and the guy who was expected to be Embiid's co-star in a potential run (and hopefully, multiple runs) for a title. The concept of this Philadelphia team is built around the idea of each guy drawing attention/doubles with the ball in their hands, providing space and scoring opportunities for the other at basically all times. Now that Embiid has been ruled out, at least for now, Harden's ability to win individual matchups and organize the offense from the perimeter becomes the primary driver of potential Sixers success. Needless to say, that's slightly worrying, though Harden did have an excellent Game 6 in Toronto and a quietly great Game 3 against the Raptors to set up Embiid's second-half heroics." [PhillyVoice]
Embiid after Game 6: “I think he broke my face, I’m serious.” pic.twitter.com/XSNWtMWhCI— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) April 30, 2022
Every single Sixers fan after hearing the Embiid news pic.twitter.com/mx3F2513Cv— NBA Slime (@TerryFranconia) April 30, 2022
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